Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Fabulous Summer Indeed...

A lot can be said about this past summer. There are just too many memories to type in this blog.

Too many good memories of things that happened, such as our visit with Pablo Perez from Madrid, Spain and our family vacation to Prince Edward Island with my brother Blair and wife Jane. Yes, Jennifer, Trent and I had a true family summer together.

We enjoyed Pablo, who came to us as part of the Red Leaf program to experience life in Canada for 28 days. Jennifer shed a tear when Pablo left and I have to admit I did as well. He was a good friend to Trent for the month of July and introduced us to many things European, a place I would love to experience but likely never will. Once our Spanish friend departed, our next adventure was to plan for our two week trip to PEI. We rented a cottage and set out a plan to stay a few days with my brother Blair and sister-in-law Jane on the west side of the island before travelling to our own rented cottage on the east side of the island in Montague, for the remainder of the trip.

Now, if you’ve never been to the tiny island, it’s one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. The countryside is beautiful, the people friendly and its nothing like Ontario because you can drive for kilometers at a time and never see another car or human being. It’s peaceful, it smells sea-like and at night, there were a million or so stars in the sky. We visited beaches, lighthouses, and even went fishing on the ocean catching mackerel with a local who was a cousin of a cousin of my brother’s ex-brother in law (whew, I hope I got that right).

Our trip also included a night stay in Quebec City to experience the Ole Town and of course a plate of crapes all covered in chocolate and strawberries for us all. The trip was capped off by an overnight rest in Ottawa to see the parliament buildings and of course to remember the days when Jennifer and I lived in the City and the town where Trent was born. Yes it was a great adventure and a good way to end the summer before facing new challenges, as described below.

Now it sounds like we had a wonderful and eventful summer. Of course, we did. However, mid-way through all this wonder a sad side dish of reality was delivered as I received more bad news on my health in July. Did the good side of my summer balance with the bad? Well, you be the judge.

Everything was going smoothly according to my last blog. I was taking chemo on a regular monthly basis staying in Toronto for a week at a time receiving a dose of ‘trial medicine’ that was apparently working to slow down the growth of my disease. But near the end of June I started to encounter double vision in my right eye when looking to the right. An MRI later and the diagnosis was a small tumor had developed in a cavity located near my right optic nerve. The tumor is small and the plan at the time was to see if it would grow in the next month of two while I continued on with the ‘trial medicine’ each month. I let it go one more month and then was told by one of my many splendid doctors that at second thought perhaps we should get this tumor before it grows and attaches to the optic nerve. If it did, then I would surely lose the vision in right my eye when the doctors finally attacked the tumor with radiation. The other concern was that if the tumor grew large enough it could affect another nerve which controls both eyes and thus if not attacked with radiation, I would lose my vision entirely.

Of course, one would immediately say, “well then, let’s get rid of it,” no question. However, if I were to have radiation I would have to come off the ‘trial medicine’ for my lungs and I would not be guaranteed to get back on the ‘trial’ following the last of the radiation treatments. This left me in a terrible dilemma. Should I secure my vision and potentially forgo my life? No shit, this was a tough decision for any 44 year-old man with a loving wife and 12-year old son. And to think, I hate making the decision on what to make for dinner!

After careful consideration, I decided to attack the young tumor and get rid of it now. We would deal with the cancer in the lungs later perhaps with a new drug or as I learned later after I had made my decision. She said, “we really don’t know if the ‘trial medicine ‘ is working anyways because you amassed this new tumor while on the drug. It might just be that your disease, as we know it does, is progressing very slowly.”

Time can only tell if I made the right decision. I made some good ones this summer going to PEI and giving the nod to our visiting friend Pablo. Perhaps this one is a good decision too.

Today, September 10, 2009, 7:28 pm, I am in my room at the Princess Margaret Lodge on Jarvis Street where I just finished dinner and I am now writing this blog. I completed my tenth treatment today of radiation so pure and refined that it is hitting the tumor within less than two millimeter of my optic nerve. The doctors believe now that I will not lose my eyesight and they will destroy the tumor in the remaining 25 treatments. (That is the plan). Once this is finished, we will surely set course to tackle the next obstacle in the game of my life.

Oh and if you’re looking for me, I am here in downtown Toronto, Monday to Friday for the next 5 weeks.

And I know it’s a long, long way from PEI and our family’s fabulous vacation. But I do have the good memories.

Thanks for reading and sharing! Next blog, September 17, 2009.. What else do I have to do?


Anonymous said...

Rocko, please know that we think of you & Jenn & Trent everyday.
Stay positive and rock out with know the rest!
love KD & fam

Anonymous said...

Barry - I'm back at work at the Foundation and would love to see you. Write me at Thinking of you and the family =)


Anonymous said...

Barry you are one of the strongest people I know and with your determination and family behind you I know that you will be fine. I know it must be hard some days, but stay positive, keep your faith and know that all your family and friends are with you and Jen and Trent.

Love Karen